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UNC Researchers Tackle Treatment Of Concussions

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — You hear the hit and then wince as a football player collapses on the field. Concussions are common in college football -- some experts said the injury is too common.

After an injury, players are usually anxious to get back on the playing field, but how soon is too soon, and when is it really safe to get back in the huddle?

Andy Gorniak knows tough hits are part of college football; so are concussions.

"I intercepted a pass and I went running and kind of turned my back and a kid hit me from behind, kind of speared me from behind my head," said the college football player.

Gorniak's college football career includes two concussions. He suffered the most recent one was seven days ago, leaving him unconscious for 30 seconds.

Doctors are testing his balance and brain function to see how Gorniak is healing.

Concussions can cause serious problems, including headache, dizziness, fatigue, memory problems, poor concentration and impaired balance.

The injury also takes time to heal.

According to a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and other experts, college football players usually need seven days to recover -- sometimes longer.

"Ten percent of our subjects were still experiencing symptoms or cognitive impairments or other types of deficits beyond the seven day point after their injury," said Michael McCrea, Ph.D, a researcher for the NCAA.

Returning to the field too soon can cause serious problems, including permanent damage and even death. Experts said players should suit up only when their injuries are healed. That rule works for Gorniak.

"Be safe out there. Don't do anything stupid," he said.

Gorniak expects to be playing again by the weekend.

UNC researchers also found that college football players with a history of concussions are three times more likely to have repeat concussions, which can cause serious damage.